Walking the talk

January 2015

By Punya Srivatsava

Punya Srivastava interviews Sri M, a renowned spiritual teacher whose marathon Walk of Hope across the length and breadth of India is scheduled to begin on January 12th from Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu

A small boy of nine meets a man at his doorstep for a few moments who announces himself as his guru and vanishes. At 19, that boy runs away from his home in Thiruvananthapuram, travels the length of the country, reaches Badrinath and accidentally comes across the same man in a cave. His aimless wandering comes to an end. He had been guided towards his master.


This is the story of Mumtaz Ali Khan’s transformation into M or Sri M, as he is widely known. He had always been an unusual child, and an even more restless teenager. Running away from home and wandering in Himalayan towns were destined for him before getting enlightened. After spending three and a half years with his master, Maheshwarnath Babaji, the young lad was sent back to the plains, and asked to prepare for his life mission. He was asked to travel the length and breadth of the country and familiarise himself with diverse spiritual and religious traditions. He consequently met masters such as Neem Karoli Baba and learnt from Laxman Joo and J. Krishnamurti. Sri M believes that spiritual exploration and evolution is not a mass phenomenon; it is a very individualistic practice that does not need advertising or marketing. He started teaching to the public in 1998, within a few years of Babaji’s passing away, following his master’s command. He then founded the Satsang Foundation to take his teachings further to the masses.

Sri M is based in Madanapalle in Andhra Pradesh where he, along with his wife, runs a school for the underprivileged children. Sri M leads his life as per Babaji’s instructions. He got married at 35, to a Hindu Brahmin girl, as his master predicted. He also has a son and a daughter. Sri M has written two books, Jewel in the Lotus and Wisdom of the Rishis, and is planning to come out with a third one. His autobiography, Apprenticed to a Himalayan Master – A Yogi’s Autobiography, came out two years back and is a blistering best-seller, having been translated into quite a few regional languages as well.

I caught up with Sri M in the Active Peace Conclave held in the Palpung Sherabling Monastery where he was one of the panellists. At 66, dressed in a saffron kurta, white pyjama and brown Nehru jacket, Sri M exuded calm and
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